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blog | April 9, 2020 – 4:51pm | By Catherine Fallis

Etruscans in the first century and later Romans produced wine here in the sun-drenched hills of Gaiole in Chianti in the heart of Tuscany. In 1051 St. Giovanni Gualberto, founder of the Vallumbrosan order of Benedictine monks, established the abbey, or “Badia” of Good Harvest “Coltibuono.” His monks may have been the first to cultivate Sangiovese in Tuscany.

Today this historic Chianti Classico estate with restaurant, abbey, accommodations, cooking courses and wine tastings, is led by the fifth generation of family members: Emanuela, Paolo, and Roberto Stucchi Prinetti. Roberto hosted a series of tastings in the US market this past January, where he shared his interest in organics and sustainability. Parts of the estate’s vineyards are now Certified Organic (ICEA) and he is trying to convince the entire region to farm organically. Roberto is also very active in promoting the idea of a Cru, or single vineyard recognition, a menzione geografica, rather than the current Gran Selezione status. He says, “80% of Gran Selezione wines are produced from eight wineries and they tend to be richer, oakier styles.”  I am a fan of Gran Selezione but do agree that they can tend towards higher alcohol with lower acidity and more noticeable oak flavors and tannins, a definite break from tradition. The highest quality Chianti Classico, even a Riserva, is able to waltz with lemon in a recipe, but that flexibility disappears once alcohol is ramped up, acidity is lowered, and oak is present. Try it for yourself.  Get a lemon and take a bite of a wedge, then taste any red wine to see what happens. 98% of them will completely fall apart, but not Chianti Classico. This is one of the reasons I so adore these wines.


Over lunch at iconic San Francisco eatery Zuni Café, Roberto and Sam Viklund of Jarvis Communications led us through a flight of estate wines. Here are our Planet Grape Wine Review favorites from the flight:


2017 Badia a Coltibuono Chianti Classico DOCG Toscana Italy   91
13.5%, 750 ml, $22
Light, tart, fresh and dry with notes of cherry, red licorice, bay leaf, caramelized onion, mushroom and cedar.

2016 Badia a Coltibuono Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva Toscana Italy   92
14%, 750 ml, $36
Lean, lively, tart and dry with notes of cherry, blackberry, sage, oregano, sun-dried tomato, mushroom, turned earth and leather. Organic grapes.

2013 Badia a Coltibuono Sangioveto Toscana IGT Italy   92
14.5%, 750 ml, $61
Full, finely chewy, fresh and dry with notes of black cherry, red licorice, tomato paste, mushroom, nutmeg and cedar. Organic grapes.

2015 Badia a Coltibuono Montebello Toscana IGT Italy   93
13.5%, 750 ml, $61
Light, tart, elegant and bone dry local blend with notes of strawberry jam, thyme, brown mushroom, nutmeg and dark chocolate. Organic grapes.


All prices are standard retail and wines are imported by Dalla Terra in Napa, California.


For an in-depth map of the appellation production zone, visit


For more reviews of Italian and other global wines, visit us at and read our Sangiovese chapter in Ten Grapes to Know, The Ten & Done Wine Guide,


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